Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Humility and Ministry

Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students is one of my all-time favorite books on ministry. Recently, I re-read a portion of his chapter on the call to ministry. The section I quote below relates a humorous encounter between Spurgeon and a prospective student at his school:

One young gentleman with whose presence I was once honoured, has left on my mind the photograph of his exquisite self. . . . He sent word into my vestry one Sabbath morning that he must see me at once. His audacity admitted him; and when he was before me he said, "Sir, I want to enter your College, and should like to enter it at once."

"Well, Sir," said I, "I fear we have no room for you at present, but your case shall be considered."

"But mine is a very remarkable case, Sir; you have probably never received such an application as mine before."

"Very good, we'll see about it; the secretary will give you one of the application papers, and you can see me on Monday."

He came on the Monday bringing with him the questions, answered in a most extraordinary manner. As to books, he claimed to have read all ancient and modern literature, and after giving an immense list he added, "this is but a selection; I have read most extensively in all departments."

As to his preaching, he could produce the highest testimonials, but hardly thought they would be needed, as a personal interview would convince me of his ability at once. His surprise was great when I said, "Sir, I am obliged to tell you that I cannot receive you."

"Why not, Sir?"

"I will tell you plainly. You are so dreadfully clever that I could not insult you by receiving you into our College, where we have none but rather ordinary men; the president, tutors, and students, are all men of moderate attainments, and you would have to condescend too much in coming among us."

He looked at me very severely, and said with dignity, "Do you mean to say, that because I have an unusual genius, and have produced in myself a gigantic mind such as is rarely seen, I am refused admittance into your College?"

"Yes," I replied, as calmly as I could, considering the overpowering awe which his genius inspired, "for that very reason."

"Then, Sir, you ought to allow me a trial of my preaching abilities; select me any text you like, or suggest any subject you please, and here in this very room I will speak upon it, or preach upon it without deliberation, and you will be surprised."

"No, thank you, I would rather not have the trouble of listening to you."

"Trouble, Sir! I assure you it would be the greatest possible pleasure you could have."

I said it might be, but I felt myself unworthy of the privilege, and so bade him a long farewell. The gentleman was unknown to me at the time, but he has since figured in the police court as too clever by half.
The story always makes me laugh—and pray that God would deliver me from my cleverness and pride! Humility causes us to repent of our self-sufficent and useless ministry and drives us to the grace that God generously supplies.

By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel


Anonymous said...

His grace. In His grace. By the power of His grace. Grasped by grace. He used a lame man, a prostitute and a tax collector to bring Himself glory. That gives me hope. He can use anybody.

Grammy said...

Hey, Grandson I enjoyed this posting tremendously...it reminds me that quite often we consider ourselves so superior that we become useless to the cause except to be an example of what not to be. Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

Golda Meir (Israel) once told somebody:

"Don't be so humble -- you're not so great".

So I guess there are dangers at both ends of the continuum!!